Review: Asylum of the Daleks (Spoilers)

Synopsis: A spaceship crashes on a planet being used as an asylum by the Daleks for broken or insane members of their race. Afraid that with this breach the inhabitants of the planet will escape, the Daleks call on the Doctor for help. Well, that is, they force him to help by launching him and his companions Amy and Rory (who are going through a divorce) at the planet, knowing that in trying to save themselves, they will lower the force field, allowing the “sane” Daleks to blow the planet up. So the Doctor must navigate a world of crazy Daleks, find the one surviving member of the crashed spaceship, and save Amy and Rory’s marriage.

What I liked about the episode:

  • Compared to the confusing two-parter that started last season, this episode was a million times easier to follow.
  • Oswin may be a spin-off personality of many Doctor Who characters, but you like her, which is a lot better than if you didn’t like her. Her situation, which may not be the most original, especially given you knew there was something suspicious going on with her, does make you think about both identity and delusions.
  • Insane Daleks? Who doesn’t like that? Could have used a bit more of that, though. As far as setting goes, it could have been scarier. Finding Daleks that fought in the war against him? Super creepy. Would have liked to get their perspective on that war, though, because we know the Doctor wasn’t exactly a saint in that war.

What I hoped for but didn’t receive:

  • When we met the man in the snow coat, I was hoping this was some kind of time-wimey thing because he had only been here a couple days but his crew had been here a year. But nope. Only zombies.
  • If the Doctor wasn’t wearing a wristband to protect him from becoming a Dalek, why do we never even slightly address his battle with memory and hatred?
  • It’s been a whole summer. They should really start off with “good old Amy and Rory” to get people back into the swing of things. They’re both so different now, you can’t remember how to connect to them. Their problems feel shallow because we’ve missed out on so much of their lives.

What didn’t work:

  • The Dalek’s name for the Doctor is The Oncoming Storm. Why is it suddenly “the predator”? Can the writers stop making up names for the Doctor and pretending like it was his nickname the whole time?
  • I almost feel like it’s the same old Amy and Rory in the end, but not really. I’ve always really liked them both, but maybe now that they’ve been through so much, their story is too soap opra-ish, and I’m weary of it.
  • Rory fiddling with the Daleks and trying to have a conversation with one about eggs? Not convincing.

Thoughts on forgetfulness:

  • “Make them remember you,” is what the Doctor tells Amy as a tactic to survive their encounter with the Daleks. Why? If he has found that this is a survival technique, should he be afraid now that the Daleks (spoilers) have forgotten him?
  • Daleks’ fear of the Doctor makes them stronger, so their forgetting him may make them weak. But now that he’s gotten their attention, can’t they just research him?
  • This creates a whole new dynamic between him and his greatest foe. I hope they use this to their advantage and really explore the new relationship.

Although it’s certainly not the worst episode, I also don’t disagree with any of Alex Day’s points on why he’s giving up Doctor Who based on this episode. I am not giving up Doctor Who, as it’s customary for the first episode and Christmas episode to not be very good.

My question for you: Stephen Moffatt’s Who (more than Davies’) is all about clues. He leaves things even in the first episode that will be important later. Do you see anything here that might be a potential clue? Is the fact that the Doctor had no reaction to not wearing a wristband a clue? Or that the Doctor said “Make them remember you?” Did you see anything else?

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